L to R: Blackened Chicken and BBQ Glazed Salmon tacos
Welcome to First Visit, a series where we review new restaurants and honestly provide a rating based on atmosphere, service, price, and, of course, food.
Chicago has more taco joints than we’ve got potholes. For a new taco-themed restaurant to make a lasting impression, it has to be outstanding. Does Old Town’s new Buzz Bait Taqueria have what it takes to compete?
Let’s take a look.
In and of itself, a taco isn’t complicated. Take a tortilla, put something in it, and there’s your taco. The difference, however, is in the details. Authentic, handmade tortillas and fresh ingredients are essential. A bit of imagination doesn’t hurt either. Buzz’s attention to detail is obvious from the moment you walk in. Gigantic fishing lures, and photos of prized catches decorate the walls to let you know this isn’t just another taco spot.
Here’s the whole picture.
Buzz Bait Taqueria
The atmosphere: Intimate space is expanded by a large garage door facing the street. Especially on warm nights, I love restaurants with large garage doors that flood the colors of the sunset through the entire dining room. Buzz’s cozy eating area spills into Old Town with long wooden tables by the window and modest patio seating outside.
What type of taco? You’ll realize soon that Buzz Bait Taqueria is a seafood restaurant masquerading as a taco joint. The owners behind Lou Malnati’s and Kamehachi, along with a few of their culinarily gifted associates, each built a taco for the menu. In fact, the idea for the restaurant was born from Marc Malnati’s search for the perfect taco. If you’re on a similar quest, start your journey here.
From the menu: Each order comes with two tacos of larger than average size. We started with the Blackened Chicken Taco, one of the only non-seafood options on the menu. Juicy chicken is complemented here by Baja slaw, Cojito cheese, and crema. Up next was the BBQ Glazed Salmon. My oh my! How fresh and flavorful was this fish! Not to be outdone, the Sweet and Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke stole the show, in my opinion. Never have I tasted tuna so delicious in taco form. My friend’s favorite, the Sapporo Battered Alaskan Cod, is a sweet and savory delight, topped with mango salsa and yogurt sauce.
Libations: The drinks here are as inspired as the dishes. Freshly squeezed juices are prepared daily. The Classic Margarita is refreshing and pleasantly orangey. The Blueberry Mint Margarita is a wild blend of Cointreau, blueberries, and fresh mint leaves. If you can’t choose between the two, go ahead and try both. You deserve it.
You Should Know
- Honestly, I don’t recommend the dessert, a Chocolate Cherry Tamale. It’s good but desperately lacking compared to the other items offered.
Atmosphere: 4/4. Good use is made here of space. The seafood theme is obvious without being kitschy and the warm breeze rushing through a large open window compliments the fish tacos well.
Service: 4/4. Friendly. Attentive. Knowledgeable. What more do you want?
Price: 4/4. $8-$9 for two large mouthwatering tacos. I believe for the fresh fish you’re getting, it’s absolutely worth the price.
Food: 4/4. It is here that I experienced the world’s best tuna taco. I’m sure of it!
First Visit Rating: 4!
Buzz Bait Taqueria